Learning to Stop, and Love

The other morning as I was driving to work, I was talking to my sweet husband. He had decided to give his day off-after a long hard week- to paint furniture for our new apartment.

I’m so incredibly blessed by him, it was supposed to hit the 90’s, and furniture painting isn’t the most fun of activities… I had helped him back on Memorial Day and 6 chairs and 3 coats later I was more than done with it!

So all of this to say, my husband is awesome, and yet I am so so far from it.

On the phone he asked me a question and I thought it was a silly one- I pointed it out and got on the weirdest little soapbox, as if I was performing for the debate team.

My case was solid from every direction, backed up with facts and snarky comments… until Tap broke in and tore my case apart with one line.

“Honey.. it was just a question, you don’t have to treat me like a moron.”

And Smack.

For a moment I was rolling around in my own glory and the feeling of being right, to find I was just rolling in the mud of pride and self-righteousness.

For a moment I was rolling around in my own glory and the feeling of being right, to find I was just rolling in the mud of pride and self-righteousness.

Such an ugly pride.

It hurt, because I had hurt him and he was right.

I need to learn how to stop.

People rarely need a reminder of their faults and shortcomings. We are all so aware already- burying ourselves in grief. We do not need to add a single thing to this pile of self-loathing in ANY way.

But rather we should lift this burden off others, especially our men. And begin to build them up.

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. Now we ask you, brothers and sisters, to acknowledge those who work hard among you, who care for you in the Lord and who admonish you.  Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other. And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone. Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else.

 Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

1 Thessalonians 5:11-15

Stop rolling around in the feeling of “being right” to only come up filthy. Let us stop our silly debate teams, soap boxes, and self-righteous monologues, and start being cheerleaders, builders, teammates, and dreamers.

 

Thank you honey, for painting the rest of the furniture. For being my team mate in making a house a home. You are strong, talented, and becoming quite the handy man!

Love,

Emilie

Comfort or Impact?

Since Tap and I made the decision to move from Ohio back to Illinois, I would be lying if I didn’t say I’ve gotten cold feet a few times.

In many ways it feels like we are moving backwards instead of forwards- Moving back into my parent’s home, making less money in a less passionate field of work (for the time-being), and Tap is still seeking employment.

But my friends reminded us that we aren’t “moving backwards,” we are simply re-adjusting our path.  Making a few turns forward, rather than turning around and retreating all-together.

Courtesy of Jean-Frederic Fortier at StockSnap.io

They encouraged me, and reminded me that all of this was to straighten our path back out so that we could seek the true goal- to be in alignment with God’s will and make an impact for His Kingdom.

 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 3:13-14

Over the last couple of years, our goal had changed. Our goal was to obtain comfort.

We had plans to pay off our school debt- a worthy goal -but that goal was driven by a motivation to travel more, upgrade our possessions, and buy more stuff…

I wanted to see Italy, Greece, and Ireland. We talked about our priorities being a new car, then a new computer, then a new whatever. Once debt was out of the way, we would have a new flow of income that would sustain our hobbies and desires.

Again, these are ok things and things we still want, but our focus had gotten off-track.  Our goal was comfort instead of impact.

We have chosen to go back to school so that we can have a bigger impact.

In times of cold-feet, I hear whispers that say: “You can’t teach.” “You’ll get another degree that you’ll never use.” “You are being foolish, wasting so much money and time… again.”

I believe this is the fear talking…  It would be a lot more comfortable to NOT go back to school, to NOT have to pay for an education, to NOT work or study or try.  But staying comfortable usually results in less impact.

As uncomfortable as it is, I want to live a life of impact.

And for me, I think that means moving to Illinois, studying hard, and getting another degree. A degree that will help me pour into the college students (the age many lose faith), to equip them with God’s word and wisdom, and to send them forth into the world- multiplying impact through a classroom.

This has been stirring in our hearts and minds…. a seed of an idea planted in us. That we’ve decided to water with a lot of prayer and a little action. Please pray with us as we weigh our options and make these big decisions.

How do you influence the world around you? What impact are you making on the people in your life? How can you multiply and deepen that impact?

I should have __________.

How many “I should have”s do you have on your plate?

This weekend I went to visit my great friends in St. Louis, and as I was waiting for them to arrive for lunch at the Boathouse I met a woman named Culeta.

She was sitting on a bench with three adorable dogs- 2 pomapoos and 1 toy poodle by the name of Kennedy.  As we sat and chatted I learned about her, her passions, and I was inspired by a few of her smart and witty comments.

Cue, that’s what her friends call her, said that God planted an idea in her head that just never seemed to go away. She said it started in her mind, went to her heart, and then started to burn in her belly.  Although it took years, she finally gave into God’s calling and she opened a non-profit called Reprieve.

She said something to the likeness of… “I’m getting too old to carry the burden of ‘I should have’s, so I just did.”

God was ready to use her, and as soon as she agreed, he readied her path.

photo courtesy of AJ Montpetit at stocksnap.io

I carry a few “I want to”s in my pack.

I want to make an impact for God’s Kingdom. I want to inspire others with my blog. I want to find a career that’s perfectly suited for my talents, passions, and purpose. I want to travel….

My hope and prayer is that these turn into statements of “I did” rather than a long list of “I should have done.”

I don’t want to drive past the homeless, and later add “I should have fed him” to my burden of should haves.

I don’t want to brush off a question in fear, instead of embracing a vigorous discussion of theology. To sacrifice a soul for comfort, than to embrace a conversation of life, hope, and saving grace.

I don’t want the burden of… “I should have gone back to school,” “I should have fought harder to save our marriage,” “I should have visited him in the hospital,” “I should have….”

I don’t want to retire and see that I lived a life of comfort instead of impact.

I don’t want my list of “Should have”s to be long, but to be as short as possible.

I want to jump in, dive deep, get uncomfortable for the sake of keeping that list short.

 

What moments have you passed up, adding a “I should have” to your list? What wants and needs are you wrestling with that you need to take action on?

 

Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.

1 Peter 4:10

Remake Your Life

Quote & Photo Courtesy of Shauna Niequist

The author of my daily devotional, Savor, posted this quote on her facebook wall. The words keep resonating in my heart and echoing through my mind.

I believe it’s worth it, too.

It’s worth it to turn the ship around, and finally begin the journey in the right direction.

Yes, we may lose something… we may lose the time we spent on the wrong career, the money we spent at the wrong school and in the wrong major, the people we called friends… maybe. Maybe not.

God has a funny way of weaving all of our experiences together to make up who we are.  Our destiny is often tied up in our past, and you never know how God will redeem it.

If you’re scared that you will lose too much, keep in mind that the sooner you turn the ship the less backtracking you will have to do.  You’ll cut your losses of time, money, energy, and you’ll have more time to invest in the right path.

Just thinking about it burns my heart up.

I want to remake my life.

All of the happiest and most successful people I know have started over and remade their lives… multiple times.

My mom and dad have had more businesses than I can count or recall. My brother has moved to Chicago, Orlando, and Minneapolis, and traded up jobs several times… all to restart again. Moving from a career in computers to one as a financial adviser.

Ed Catmul wanted to be an artist, but lacking the skills he went to school for physics and came out with a degree in it and computer science. At the time this seemed far from art.. physics? Then he did the unthinkable by blending computer science with animation, and after many new beginnings, he is the well-known president of Pixar and Disney Animation Studios.

My sweet husband went to school for environmental science, but God called him out of that. Tap had to remake his life to fit God’s call, and transferred schools for Worship Ministry.

Countless entrepreneurs had to begin somewhere, and many had to begin again… and again. Usually coming out stronger, more defined, and more fueled with passion then ever before.

Life is short, wild, and ambitious. We need to rise up and meet the challenge and embrace the whims of it.

It’s better to remake your life now, than look back with regret.

Don’t wait until you have all your ducks in a row.

Don’t wait until the kids are grown.

Don’t wait until forever.

It takes time to remake your life, so you better start now.

The sooner you start the longer you can savor.

What do you want to remake your life into? What is your first step? What remaking have you already done in your life?

We need to get uncomfortable

When I am home alone, I do things I would never do if I knew someone was in the house.

I will sing loudly, practice animal noises, or even practice pretty and funny faces in the mirror. These are things I want to master before I ever display them publicly. This is silly, because none of these things are important or necessary skills.

I mean, how often does someone ask you to make a monkey noise? (Monkey I can do pretty well… but my cow impression, it sounds like a very confused sheep)

However, I carry this “in the closet” practice for a lot of things. My fear of embarrassment holds me back from trying anything out in the open unless I know I will succeed. Because of this I miss out on trying a lot of fun and exciting things.

The lack of failing in my life is equivalent to the lack of growing in my life.

-I’ll go to a yoga class after I’ve mastered the workout DVD I just bought at home.

-I’d love to sell things on Etsy, but I’m not going to open a store until I have a product I know will sell.

-I might take my husband up on singing on Sunday, once I’m satisfied with how I sing in the shower.

-I’ll go to that church event if I know that someone I know will be there and will sit with me.

Sometimes the fear of failing will keep you from even picking up a paint brush, or signing up for a class, or beginning the process at all.

I have to remind myself that the classroom isn’t for the perfect, it’s for the learning. The world isn’t for the successful it’s for the growing. The church isn’t for the perfect, it’s for the redeeming.

Photo Credit: Alex Wong on unsplash.com

 

All of this talk about starting embarassing beginnings and getting out of our comfort zone was spurred on in me from the Global Leadership Summit this year. This theme of uncomfortability seemed to brush over me with each speaker.  As I listened, I learned that being uncomfortable can bring about 4 great things in you.

 

  1. Growth

We learn what not to do every time we fail, and like a muscle the practice makes us stronger to succeed the next time.

Jim Collins quoted a rock climbing friend, “I’m not failing, I’m growing.”

He may not have been making it to the tip, yet, but he was getting closer each time.

  1. Freedom

The more we fail, the more we get used to it. Our courage, grit, and determination will all increase.

Ed Catmull of Pixar and Disney Animation Studios said, “If you get over embarrassment, it frees you up.”

Catmull even encourages everyone to fail. “Fail early and fail fast.”

  1. Meaningful Relationships

If we only show the twitter-perfect version of ourselves, then all of our relationships are shallow.

“We want more love, intimacy, belonging, and joy. The only path to those things is vulnerability.” – Dr. Brene Brown

  1. Integrity

Often we are uncomfortable in our own skins. If we could drop down the walls we’ve built and be completely and uncomfortably ourselves, we can begin to build character. We would have a life marked of being genuine.

 

In the end, being uncomfortable is a very powerful thing.

“It’s powerful, because we don’t like it. We work hard to get out of it.” – Liz Wiseman

 

What makes you uncomfortable? What have you done or learned in an uncomfortable situation?

Knee Jerk Reactions can Teach Us About our Hearts

Last week, I shared with all of you how my husband and I use walks to reconnect.  I’d like to share a story about a specific walk we shared recently that illuminated a weakness I have.

Often times on our walks we come across a dozen or so bees.  We live in a townhouse in a large neighborhood of rental properties.  With so many shared lots, there are a lot of community mailboxes.  For some reason, bees love these.  They claim these mailbox huts as their own tiny homes.  Whenever we come across one on our path we are sure to find three to nine bees crossing back and forth across the sidewalk as if they were creating an electronic force field.

Bee House AKA Mailbox

EVERY.TIME. Our pace becomes a little faster, and we keep our chins up as if to say to the bees “We’re not scared of you.”  But, in truth, we are.  We are very afraid.  All it takes is for the bee to stray it’s path in our direction and we jump off the sidewalk into the road and run a good five paces until we see the bee has decided to leave us alone.

After a handful of walks, I decided I was going to be brave.  The bees haven’t stun us yet, why should I still be so fearful?  We began to walk towards Bee-Row.  The bee hovered in the middle of the sidewalk, as if staring us down.  Out loud, I confessed, “This bee is going to think he owns us!”  In this moment I was determined to show it otherwise.  Then it juts straight towards us, and I push my husband in the direction of the bee at the same time as I leap toward the street and run.

My husband catches up to me, as I am laughing out loud to myself.  He asked me what that was about, and between laughter I admitted that I sacrificed him for my safety.

Up until that moment I hadn’t planned on sacrificing my husband to the bees.  However, in these knee-jerk moments we realize what lays buried in our hearts.  There are still things, as small as a bee sting, that keeps selfishness and fear rooted in my heart.

What do your knee jerk reactions tell about your heart? What do you have yet to hand over to God? What sin is he trying to chisel out of you?

Do Over Challenge

New Year Resolutions are hard to keep.  Sometimes they are just too big to grasp, and too overwhelming to start.  This year I decided to get some help;  I leaned on Jon Acuff’s “Do Over” challenge, and it was Goldy Locks’ just right for me.

Each day you read ONE page, just one, then answer a few questions… The words encourage and inspire, while the questions help you focus and put yourself in gear.  Then you spend 10 minutes doing what you want to do over.  You do this for 10 days, meaning you’ve only spent 100 minutes.  So if it doesn’t work for you, it didn’t hurt.  If it does, it’ll gain momentum and snowball forward throughout your year.

For my first “Do Over,” I decided to spend 10 minutes a day drawing or painting.  I had always loved making things as a kid.  Craft kits were always on my wish list and paper and pencils were always packed for vacation.  Whether it was drawing, scrapbooking, crafting, I loved to create.  But as I grew, life got more and more busy, and the things I wanted to do were replaced with things I had to do.

So I wanted a Do Over.  This time I was putting a priority on something I love.  I was and still am worried that I lost the nack for it, but I’m “kicking fear to the curb” and doing it anyway.  It’s scary to show my work, it’s vulnerable, and I know it’s not perfect… but I’m not going to stop chasing my dream just to look “cool.”  So here it is… here are some of the things 100 minutes brought me.

dooverart

I enjoyed this challenge so much, I’m going to do it again.  This time I’m inviting you to join me. 10 minutes for 10 days, chase your dream.

 

EmTap Christmas

This Saturday we celebrated our fourth married Christmas! Since we got married in December, Christmas seems to have an added sentimental value.  It’s hard to celebrate such a joyful and memorable holiday without reminiscing over the ways we’ve changed over the years or how we celebrated in the past.

When we were dating, Tap was the first boyfriend of mine to ever stop by my house on Christmas day.  He swayed his hips to the beat of Dance Central, our hit family Christmas present that year.  When we were dating, we never swapped gifts, but always went on dates instead.  We celebrated by snowskiing in Northern Illinois.  During the ski-trip, we were taking a hot-cocoa break, and this was the first time Tap let me in on the notion of wanting to marry me.  He tells me now, that it was “the moment” he knew.  He took my sapphire ring off my right hand, and slipped it onto my left ring finger telling me, “Someday I’ll be putting a ring on this finger…” The next December we got hitched!

Ski Trip 2010

Our first married Christmas was a mere week from our honeymoon in Kauai.  I had hand-knit him a scarf and hand-painted a popcorn bowl which he still wears and uses today.  He made me a small scrapbook of the many ways he loves me, and filled my stocking with other things.

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The second Christmas, and our one year anniversary, we went snowskiing again; This time in Steamboat Colorado.  I bought him a used pair of snowski’s, and he gifted a beautiful green amethyst necklace to me for our anniversary.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Christmas number three was our first Christmas away from Illinois.  Just the two of us celebrated with Christmas cookies from a local bakery, hot cocoa, and a gift swap.  We were in Ohio until he wrapped up his first Christmas Eve production, and we hit the road for a long 5 hour trip racing to hit the bed before Santa came.

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This year was Christmas Four!  We got up, ate cookies, drank hot chocolate, stayed in our pajamas, opened presents, watched a movie, and spent the whole day being lazy and loving one another.

…But I am going to be honest.  Christmas isn’t always picture perfect. Unfortunately this year, I was hormonal and grumpy.

I love Christmas, but I struggle with the materialism, the over-hyped anticipation, and the unrealistic expectations that influence my happiness.  I hated myself for being one of those.  I let myself take my life and the gifts for granted, I let myself get distracted from the true meaning of Christmas.  Not only that, but I even struggled with holding on to our special married meaning that Tap and I have created over the years.  After looking back I think it was a combination of things: breakdown from stress, being hormonal, selfishness, and distraction.  Yes there are things I could not have controlled or changed, but I could have- and eventually did- choose to react in a more positive way.

The moment I let go of me, and refocused on God- His ultimate gift, and His personal gift to me-my husband, our little celebration got better.  I am so thankful for my husband, who tirelessly encouraged me, and spiritually led me to the manger this Christmas.  If you feel yourself getting wrapped up in a bahumbug, stop and pray, and refocus on the true blessing this season.

Technology Diet

Technology is fast. We have a plethora of information at our finger tips.  The only thing stalling it, is our WPM (words per minute).  The capabilities are limitless! It is truly amazing to watch discovery after discovery, with simple days or months in between.  It is so fast that once we have all our friends on myspace, the world moves to facebook.  By the time we learn facebook’s layout, it changes, and then changes again.  We have our money saved up for the newest iphone, but now we can just wait, because a newer one will be just around the corner!

But the rise of technology was and is so fast, that we haven’t approached it with caution or care. We blinked, and our babies can swipe open an ipad!  I can’t say whether or not society talked about the effects of unleashing the power of technology before they did it, but I can say there’s a buzz about it’s aftermath.  How has technology affected you? Your family? The way you relate to others?

Technology adds a lot of value.  I am able to skype my best friend in Washington state, when I live in Ohio.  Every morning I can call my mom in Illinois.  Listening to her over speakerphone so that my hands are free to apply my day’s mascara.  Facebook keeps me in the loop of friends that would otherwise be long lost.  My instagram feed is full of my growing adorable baby niece, Harper.  There are a lot of things I am thankful for in the realm of technology.

It’s pretty cool how God created the world, and from the very beginning, He created the possibility of technology.  He laid all the pieces we needed out before us.  I picture Him delighting over every discovery His children make.  Like a proud father watching his child discover their own fingers, begin to crawl, and finally say “dada.”

However, every good thing can be skewed, changed, and used for a different purpose. Satan can manipulate all things to serve his purpose instead of God’s. I can’t help but see the danger of technology as well as it’s benefits.

“The average American over the age of 2 spends more than 34 hours a week watching live television” –Nielson Numbers Daily News. That means television alone sucks up nearly 32% of our awake day.  This doesn’t even include our use of the internet, and cell phones.  According to Arlene Pellicane, author of “Growing Up Social: Raising Relational Kids in a Screen-Driven World,” on average we check our cell phones 30 times an hour!  Are you letting technology feast on your time like this?

When we are so caught up in the next episode of our favorite sitcom, or replying to that text message that flashed on our screen, we are missing out on face-to-face time with our loved ones.  So what can we do to reign in this power?

1) Pray about it

Seek God’s wisdom and leadership.

2) Fast it

Fasting is a religious discipline where you abstain from one thing to focus on another.  Fast from technology, and focus on your relationships.  Build a safe environment to share deeply with one another, know one another, and have FUN together.

3) Schedule It

Write out a plan, put it on the calendar.  Create boundaries for you and your family.  When do you use technology?  Three times a day, 2 hours, only on weekends?

4) Monitor It

Constantly check in and revise your plan.  Ask yourself : How did I use technology today?  How long did I engage?  How did it benefit me?

If it doesn’t benefit you, it’s a waste. Throw it out.